HGTV magazine spread; A lovely house makeover in Studio city

hgtv april 2013 cover

Hello. I’d like to officially welcome you to the longest (and most full of information and general design porn) post I’ve ever done. I can finally reveal a house I worked on for a year last year that I’m so proud of. It’s featured in this month’s HGTV Magazine so I’ll no longer get digitally tarred and feathered for posting the photos.

This job was a total dream job. Rachna and Dave were young, cool, stylish, had great taste, good imagination, and were flexible with my crazy schedule (aka, patient as hell). Plus, they had very inappropriate senses of humor and a very cute child, which is a prerequisite. I think from beginning to end it took a year, but that included a ton of travel on my part so it was slow to finish … but totally fun every single second. I’m not kidding.

hgtv magazine spread

I mean, look at them. I only have attractive clients. Let’s get to some before and afters, shall we?

The living room … BEFORE:

before living room

Hopefully Rachna doesn’t kill me for posting that. They had spent six months with an incredible architect, Eric Olsen, renovating this house, and it looks beautiful. It’s part of the reason we took the job — the budget wasn’t huge, but we knew that we would get amazing portfolio pics out of it (you’ll see what I mean later).

The sectional was super comfortable, but it wasn’t actually their TV room/lounging area, so it really cut off the flow of the whole main floor without being that functional. Eli’s play room is where the camera is therefore no one could sit there and watch him at the same time. So we sold the sectional (from Cisco home, which was awesome) to another client of ours (which was a friend of theirs, strangely) and bought this sofa from Room and Board instead.


photo by Victoria Pearson

AHHHH. Indeed. Bright, airy, vintage, kid-friendly. I love it. Here’s what we did: Instead of a sectional, we did the old “sofa facing almost matching chairs” trick (flea market chairs + upholstery = $600 for both) and stuck a very kid-friendly (brass doesn’t damage, round is safe) Moroccan coffee table in between. They already had that console in another room but we stuck it behind the sofa with some matching lamps on it and engaged that space, which would have been left empty and totally awkward. (Yes, think about floating your sofa and putting a sofa table behind it; it’s a fabulous underrated trick).

room and board sofa

photo by bethany nauert

In case you are asking, “Why are all the props different in this photo?,” the answer is that I had it shot (by Bethany Nauert) when I finished the house (eight months ago) to pitch it to HGTV mag. Then HGTV normally has their own photographers (like Victoria Pearson) who come in to shoot it for the magazine. In that three months we shifted some things around styled it differently for each photo. But I figured just having this perspective would help you understand the space.

The pouf was theirs already (always kid friendly, Garnet Hill sells that color) and the drum table was bought at a vintage store. The only two things we brought in for the shoot, but weren’t left were the West elm yellow lamp (because it was low and breakable, so instead they put it in their guest room), and the painting on the mantel (it’s not his style so much so they are currently still in search of that piece — and meanwhile it’s on my mantel).

Next up is Eli’s playroom, otherwise known as the coolest playroom on the West coast.

But here it is BEFORE:

playroom before

Obviously a VERY good place to start. The architect (Eric Olsen) had helped them make the decision to paint the back wall with chalkboard, bought them that awesome pendant light and the vintage store shelving unit. You can see some of the rustic wood cladding he did all over the house, which is sadly kinda edited from the story … don’t worry I’m doing a separate post of the missing rooms where you’ll see a lot of that.

The challenges: Mainly just lack of color, furniture, fun, and figuring out what to do with that shelving unit.

And now …

yellow and teal playroom

photo by Victoria Pearson

I now regret my childhood for I wasn’t playing in such a room. Kidding, Ma and Pa. We knew we needed color, so color is what we went for. They had that teal chest that was in their closet and we unearthed it, and put it on that wall. As much as we loved the chalkboard wall, it was a big black box. Eli is turning three this year so he is still little and can’t really draw on the top half so we knew we had to engage it somehow. We figured it would be a great place to display his other art and it could rotate as they saw fit.

painted frames

photo by bethany nauert

The frames you ask? We bought them (new, shiny, and bad, but good shape and scale) from Aaron Brothers during their buy one get one for one cent sale and then painted them gold and white. We figured it was a good opportunity to make a statement instead of just painting them all white or getting all wood — this pops off the wall, and really elevated the amateurism (sorry, Eli!) of the artwork.

The rug is a Dwell Studio classic — the Draper Rug and it’s awesome. (I can’t find the yellow one on the site, but I found this yellow one instead.)  The white poufs you can get, well, a lot of places now and that gold lamp was a boring orange lamp that we spray-painted gold and put a fresh shade on.

But what about that monster of an amazing shelving unit. What do you put in that thing that is A. inexpensive, B. functional, and C. looks good. Nothing. There is nothing functional that looks good that we had the budget for. All the pockets are different sizes, and before you say “A collection of … vintage cameras/spools of thread/stuffed animals/wooden blocks,” I harken you to think of anything that is cool, that is worth collecting, and less than $10 a piece. We needed 65 of these bad boys. Someday it will be wine storage, but for now it’s in the playroom, so obviously that would be strange.

playroom before

Drum-roll please … the AFTER:

mason jar art

photo by bethany nauert

Yep. Painted the inside of standard mason jars. About $1 – $2 a piece. The whole job costs $500 in materials (and yes, while we did spend around 15 hours on it, it was before our hourly business model so it was included in the original design fee + we enjoyed doing it :))


There were a million different ways to do this — stripes, random pattern, but we ultimately settled on shades of the same color and just took this Benjamin Moore paint deck, and had a quart of each color on that page of the fan deck mixed.  We started with dark on the bottom so it didn’t feel top heavy. Like ma body.

how to paint mason jars

Oh hey, Landy. I love how your shirt matches the task at hand. Now that’s a good, properly brainwashed, employee.


It’s common house paint; water-based. Nothing special. Swirl it around with a cheap brush, let it dry, do two coats … at least.


After the first coat.


We didn’t even clean off the brushed in between colors — we liked how they kinda mixed and marbled around.

mason jar final

photo by bethany nauert

DUDE. I just searched for about an hour in my files for the drawing I made to determine all the sizing of the jars for each pocket because you know what I had to do to figure it out?? F&@KING MATH!!!! that’s what. It took me hours to figure out that the bottom row needed to be quarts (or whatever they are), then pints, then pints stacked on top of each other, then 1/2 quarts, etc. Wait. I just noticed one is missing the top right corner. I swear it was being touched up when we shot this (not for the magazine, but for scouting shots with Bethany).

Anyway, it was a very inexpensive (relatively) project that anybody could do — we didn’t have to hire anyone, we didn’t have to spend a ton of money, and it brought color but also reflection into the shelves (and reflection  = light and life). If we had just a piece of color (we thought about doing colored paper boxes) it would have still left it feeling dead. The glass reflected so much light (which is why we chose to paint the inside and not the outside of the jars).

Whew. Up next, the family room …

vintage modern house

Except I just realized that I literally have ten more rooms to go, which would make this officially the longest post in the history of long blog posts. Yes, longer than most Young House Love posts (which I read every word of:)). So I’m going to spread this house out over a few posts, a couple rooms at a time so your eyes don’t glaze over, and I’m not spending 16 hours on one post.

Come back tomorrow for the family room and some cute vignettes, then later the kitchen, dining nook, and dining room, and lastly, the master bedroom, bathroom, and office. I already posted the guest room, so check that out HERE.  

yellow and navy bedroom

photo by Victoria Pearson

It’s a house tour, but the old fashioned way. Meanwhile ask any and all questions you have in the comments about the spaces above, and I’ll get to them and answer all your questions after my 19 meetings tomorrow.  :)


  1. I was all settled in! Reading every word! So clutch. The house is amazing!! I already pinned the guest room as inspiration for our master and I honestly want to pin every other room you have revealed today!! It is amazing. All of it. I’d love to know more about the source of the coffee table in the living room. Vintage?

    • Emily

      Hey Julia. Thanks very very much. And yes, its vintage. I think we got it at the Flea market and i remember it being $300.

  2. Jenna

    I am obsessed with everything you are doing lately, and this house is amazing. I wish I was a little kid so I could be wonderfully inspired in that playroom. Love it.

    • Emily

      Me too! (with the kid, not obsessed with everything i’m doing :)) Thanks so much. xx

  3. Jessi

    Those jars are so so pretty. I need a shelving unit like that to shamelessly copy you. So lovely!

  4. Sunne

    Everything! Wow! I so enjoy the eye candy you present in your posts! Also, I have a vintage round, brass chinese tray thingy that’s currently hanging on the wall. Do you know of a way I could adhere legs to it? To turn it into a side/coffee table?

    • Emily

      I see people at the flea market that have adhered bases to it, but honestly i don’t know where they get them. They seem to all be vintage…… Good luck, though. ANd thanks so much for commenting.

  5. Sue Gryczman

    How did you know those yellow/red/flowery drapes would work so well with the navy blue in the bedroom ?Fabulous!! I have a guest room that is painted dark green and the bedding is cream and has rust/brown birds on it (from dwell). The bed is a dark brown/black sleigh bed with some rust in a woven wood that is in the headboard. Any suggestions on finding a great patterned drape to go with this hand me down stuff? I was just going to put up natural linen drapes but after seeing this guest room….it seems too safe and boring. Thank you.

    • Emily

      I would say go for a small pattern if your bedding is a larger pattern. That’s why they work in the guest room – the two patterns are drastically different scales. Make sense? Good luck.xx

  6. Melanie

    I’m so excited there’s still a bunch of rooms left. :) Can’t wait to see the rest! Especially more of that awesome-looking family room. Love it all.

  7. I don’t have a question – I just wanted to tell you that you’re adorable and you’re a total inspiration to me. The living room you just posted with the turquoise couch and the fiddle leaf fig is my perfect room. I’d love for you to do a post about how to style surfaces (credenza is what I had in mind). Keep killin’ it!

    • Emily

      Thank you thank you. Will do (with the credenza).

    • Emily

      Thank you thank you. Will do (with the credenza).

  8. What a cliffhanger! I can’t wait to see the family room. It looks like something both myself and my husband would love. Which never happens. So anxious!

    P.S. – I also read every word of Young House Love, but don’t tell my boss that ;)

  9. Emily,
    As always you are AMAZING!!!! I am in love with Eli’s playroom and the whole house is beautiful! Thanks for the constant flow of inspiration, love your blog!!

  10. Love the frames!! I think those would be great for an adult, too! I can picture them in a tiny entry hallway and you swap out cards, photos, etc.

  11. Becky

    I love everything!! You are so talented. Thanks for your detailed posts! I feel like I’m learning so much : )

    • Emily

      Ahh, thank you so much.

  12. Someday, when I win the lottery, I would love to hire you to style our little loft. Your work is so amazing! I love how you always find such creative ways to integrate colors and patterns into a room. Especially love those painted mason jars! I’m kind of obsessed with mason jars…

    • Emily

      God, thank you so much. I’ve also been obsessed with mason jars since i grew up canning tuna every summer. And yes, it smelled like tuna for 2 weeks. Totally embarassing when you are in junior high.

  13. I absolutely loved the spread about this house. The play area is fabulous! Love the turquoise jars and the shades of color you brought to that old shelf. Also, the frames with the hint of gold trim…fabulous. The couple brought a lot of their own style to the house and I love how you just enhanced their already great style. You added additional flair. You’ve got such a good eye for that. Good job

    • Emily

      Thank you thank you. And thanks for your FB posts as well. xxxxx

  14. hillary

    I want to steal their house! Is that possible? In all seriousness, the LR makes me realize the solution to the behemoth white brick fireplace in my own LR: plants! It has these stupid niches built into it plus a very oversize raised hearth. I have tried to accessorize with various things: vases, insect collection, wicker shizz, and so on, but I understand now that what it needs is plants.

    Also, I love the masculine/feminine balance in all your designs. You have a real gift for it. However (and it’s a small however), I don’t like those jars. YES, they are pretty. But all that useful shelving in a playroom and it’s full of decorative and breakable non-function? Most of the little boys I know would be climbing those shelves like a ladder and pulling down the jars like so many shiny ombre bombs. Maybe their kid is extremely well behaved. I am not a designer so I’d probably do something boring like interspersing more canvas and wicker bins for toy storage with fewer objects, color-coordinated books or games, etc. The canvas bins with the rope pulls on the bottom row are divine, though.

  15. ps- i had such a fun time competing in the nightstand styling contest. Now that the contest is over, there is no way to view the different nightstand images. Would you ever consider posting the images onto your blog so we can view the images of each wonderful nightstand? (This may be too much to ask as I know there were a ton of entries). Either way, thanks for hosting! Cheers

    • Emily

      Hi heather!
      I’m in the midst of choosing my favorite 20 – 25 and yes, they’ll be on the blog (maybe tomorrow) and definitely on the fb page in an album. Thank you so much for playing. xxx

      • Thank you so much for replying to me, Emily! I look forward to the blog and album. You’re the best. (ps, do you sleep?) Cheers.

  16. Mari

    Great house! Any idea where to get some of the outdoor dining chairs?

  17. I might have started another episode of Blue’s Clues for my kid just so I could read every word and drool over these pictures! And I once again have plant envy. I love the glass bottles/jugs/vases in the living room, on the brick. And I love how you did the frames in the playroom.. and I really like the painting on the mantel, too… and I reeally love… I could go on and on. Beautiful!

  18. Love this house Em! I’ve been searching for chair and a sofa like these – were they custom or retail? Can’t wait to see the rest of the house!

    • Emily

      VIntage :( I got them at the flea market, both for $600. They don’t match, but they were such a good deal and we were running out of budget fast. Plus i love them. xxx

  19. Bri

    oh my goodness that kids room is so great! hopefully one day my little man will have that neat of a space. my mom painted a chalkboard wall in my little brother’s room and i’m still jealous!

  20. Suz

    Love every single room, especially the navy and white bedroom. You killed it, Ems.

  21. Alma

    Emiliy, you are the best!
    You gived to every single room this fresh and clean look, love it!

    I watch always ypur show, greetings from Monterrey, México!

  22. So excited! I love everything you do, but this is so, so good.

  23. Jessica

    Great job! I loved reading the article in HGTV magazine and am so happy that you’re going deeper into this beautiful house! The gold/herringbone? side table in the family room next to the blue chair is great- where’s it from?

    • Emily

      Ahh, thanks. I’ll post that tomorrow but its vintage with ORIGINAL fabric underneath some gross fabric on top that we ripped off. Just lucky. Come back tomorrow. xxx

  24. Julie

    Absolutely love the painted mason jars. Brilliant!

  25. AHhhh love what you have done with this house! Can I be a kid again? And have that play room? Wow. Can’t wait to see the rest.

  26. amyks

    Awesome!! Love how you also threw in the reference to the super long posts at Yong House Love. Hilarious! Saw the pics in the magazine, but getting the low down is so much better. Thanks for sharing.

  27. Danielle

    Love the living room and that play space – gah! My husband and I recently moved into a house with a biggish living room and we’re struggling to make the best use of the space. Thanks for the inspiration!

  28. That playroom is amazing and I can’t believe y’all painted all of those mason jars. Such a labor of love that was well worth it! I also love what you did with the frames. Such a genius idea.

  29. Joanne

    Emily. Henderson. Rocks. Period.
    Your use of plants in this house (and also Bri’s!) is awesome, and it is totally inspiring me!

    • Emily

      You just made me smile so big. Thank you so much.

  30. Jen

    Emily – a few weeks ago you mentioned having a job that you couldn’t tell us much about but mentioned how exciting it was going to be. I’m so happy I followed up! What a great remodel. The furniture pieces are beautiful but my favorite pieces may be the art work! Thanks

  31. Trying to figure out how to get a playroom of that caliber in our 1200 sf apartment. Maybe we just don’t need our master bedroom? We could sleep on the couch?! Incredible job…can’t wait to see the rest.

  32. Erin Skomal

    Amazing!!!! I love everyone single room. Can you tell me where the living room rug was purchased? As well as the sofa pillows? I can’t wait for til the next installment of photos. Thanks.

    • Emily

      Oh yes! I’m so sorry. THe living room rug is a sisal from West Elm. The pillows are a combination of west elm and anthropologie. xxx

  33. Azure

    Nice! I see Eric Olson is in Orange County, CA. I presume that the homeowners are in California too. Do you worry that all of those jars are going to come crashing down in an earthquake?

    • Emily

      There is actually a ledge that keeps them all in. ITs just how it was built so its perfect. xxx

  34. Jackie

    The mason jars are amazing. You hit the idea jackpot on that one….but I think you already know that! Very cool.

  35. Alisa

    Those half-gold/half-white frames are a revelation to me. I LOVE that idea. May just have to steal that for myself one day :) Really crazy lovely home. Awesome work!

  36. Yah that kid’s room is fantastic. Love how you made mason jars refreshing when they are frankly so overused right now (including by me all the time). Awesome job as per usual. Of all the questions to ask, I have a pretty dumb one. What gold spray paint did you use for the frames and the lamp? I literally just spray-painted a huge mirror for my living room fireplace situation in gold and it just looks super yellow and I am unhappy with it. This gold looks like just the ticket.

    • Emily

      God, if i forget. i think i pinned it because i wanted to remember which one it was. most likely rustoleum…..i’ll try to find out because it was so good.

  37. Alison

    I adore your work and am a fan of this house! But I gotta echo an earlier comment about the practicality of all the glass jars perched up on a very climb-able structure in a playroom. I have two very young girls, and although they’re pretty well behaved, there’s just no telling what they’d do left alone in a room like this for a few minutes… and if other kids (neighbors etc.) were over, all bets would be off. I’m a huge fan of having a dedicated playroom, but for me it has to be 100% child proof to make sense.

    • Emily

      I totally understand, but they are all held in there by ledges and more importantly they are pretty tall. its meant to be a few year solution and someday to hold toys/books, but leaving it empty for now just looked so sad. xx

  38. Kelly

    Wow! It’s all amazing but that living room space is absolute perfection. You are the queen of blue Emily! You have the best eye for bringing in the exact right amount of colour. I also have to say that I adore your blog – thank you for all the work you put into each and every post!

  39. Mary

    Beautiful done!
    Congratulations Emily!
    Love your work always!

  40. Mary

    Beautifully done!
    Congratulations Emily!
    Love your work always.

  41. Congrats on your beautiful work and another spread in HGTV mag! I am trying to get better at child friendly designing, you had some good tips. Although I still prefer working for single people, or people who keep their children in cages. Kidding! Kind of…..

    Can’t wait to come back to see more behind the scenes info!

  42. Chris

    I’m obsessed with the “bookshelf” in the kid’s playroom. And those jars. Obsessed.

  43. Am a fan all the way from Cape Town, South Africa. Am completely obsessed with your style Emily….SO my style too! Just wish we had the retail and vintage markets here like you have there!!!

  44. This is seriously incredible. I can’t wait to see the rest of the house.

  45. Tanja

    My oh my… you never cease to amaze!
    I know the word is used way too often, but I think it’s apt in your case. ;-) You are such an inspiration, Emily!
    Thanks for sharing all this good stuff with us!

  46. Ana

    I read this article on the plain to Seattle and couldn’t await to come back home to start redecorating. Your style is such an inspiration. :)

  47. Monica

    hi Emily,

    I am on the search for a great white wall paint, any recommendations…I love the one used in the living room? Thank you so much,


  48. emily, i cannot stop looking at these rooms! you TOTALLY knocked it out of the park in this home. your rooms always draw me in because they are so full of well-thought-out details and interest in every corner. and your use of colors and plants! truly stunning.

    two questions (i didn’t see these asked above, so i’m hoping i’m not duplicating!): 1) can you share the wall color for the living room? i can’t tell if it is white or a pale gray or blue? and 2) where did you find the teal chair in the family room?

  49. I would like to discuss hiring you for our home in AZ. RSVP

  50. Mary

    Seriously. In. Love. Just discovered you! Where have I been! Don’t have a tv that’s why! I would love to know the white used in these rooms. Want to head in that direction, but whites are overwhelming after years of staying away from them! Scared of the ugly old chalky yellowy whites of yesteryear! Would also love to know the color if the fireplace wall in the family room. Please and thank you!

  51. Laurel

    ditto on wanting your reccs for a white wall paint. we are moving into a new house and i am inspired by all the white rooms you do with pops of color and texture. we have lots of wood midmod furniture, light parquet floors, and colorful art so i think this might be the way to go. any recommendations? what did you use in this bedroom and living room? thanks, And bravo on this home!

  52. Brittany H

    Seriously obsessed with everything you’ve done in this house. Can’t wait to see the rest!

    What gold spray paint do you recommend? Definitely planning on switching up a lamp of mine. Thanks, Emily!

  53. Kim

    Emily, this house is amazing! It is absolutely perfect in every way. I am going to steal that idea with the frames for my kids’ room – genius, genius, genus!!! Thank you so much for this blog – you are so generous with information and you have taught me everything I know about design (not that it’s much, but you get all the credit!). I was wondering if you could share the source of that aqua plaid throw in the first picture. I have been looking forever for something like that to complete the bedding in my kids’ room. Please say it’s readily available!

    You are THE BEST!

  54. emily, i’m kind of in love with you. everything you touch is magic!

  55. Rachael Sigsbee

    Hi Emily,

    I’m looking for tall, skinny lamps for my nightstands and am having a hard time finding a good one. I love the tall gold lamp next to the bed on the left in the photo above. Do you know where I can find this lamp or one similar? Thanks in advance!

  56. So fantastic. Love the continuity of blue in every room (so “Emily!). Gotta go pick up an HGTV magazine, stat, so I can stroke the glossy goodness!

  57. angie ohara

    I am hoping they bring back the Flora and Fauna Curtains from Modcloth. I filled out a request on their website. In the meantime, you don’t happen to have another recommendation for a similar fabric/drape?
    P.S. I LOVE everything you do. Before I found your blog, everything I owned was straight from the pages of a PB catalog. I love eclectic and cant get enough vintage, mid century, mixed metals, etc. Thanks so much for sharing.

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  60. jodi

    I was so excited when I saw this spread in HGTV magazine. And so happy to see more pics here! Absolutely LOVE this space. You are amazing.

    Also, I love that you are obsessed with YHL. I can’t get enough of them, either. =)

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  62. Rose

    The blue dresser is from MIX Furniture on La Brea Ave!

  63. Rachel

    Hey Emily.
    First time posting and I’m kinda nervous ;) I wanna know as well what gold paint you used on the frames and lamp. Where they the same? Different? Side note, I often wonder how much you’d charge to come to Kansas City and style my little home, ah a girl can dream, can’t she?? …then my husband wakes me up from my dream and kindly tries to offer his style advise which isn’t the same ;)

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  66. Janice V

    Where did you get the silver hanging lamp next to the turquoise chair? I love it!

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  72. I’m excited to find this page. I wanted to thank you for ones time just for this fantastic read!!

    I definitely really liked every bit of it and I have you book-marked to check out new things on your web site.

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